Suzuki legend Kevin Schwantz has urged the factory not to wait until the season ending Valencia MotoGP for the race debut of its new grand prix machine.
Suzuki 'suspended' its MotoGP activities due to the financial crisis at the end of 2011, but will return in 2015 and has taken part in official tests for the last two years as it develops a new Inline four-cylinder powered motorcycle.
The machine is set to make its debut as a wild-card entry in this year's season finale, at the hands of test rider Randy de Puniet, but Schwantz doesn't think Suzuki should wait until November to go up against Honda, Yamaha and Ducati in a head-to-head race.
Speaking at this weekend's Suzuka 8 Hours, Schwantz - who tested the Suzuki grand prix machine at the Circuit of the Americas earlier this year - told Bridgestone Motorsport:
“The bike itself is really nice. For the twelve or so laps I rode it I got along with it well and so many pictures of me testing it shows my front wheel a foot off the ground but I never felt it get out of hand.
“It was smooth, the tyres kept it planted and it really felt like there was nothing to riding it. It did everything right and I think there's enough in the basic package to make it competitive, but it will take time.
“When I was here in Japan earlier in the month I said to the guys from Suzuki that they had to get the bike racing before Valencia. Maybe they're not ready, but you're not getting more ready by waiting, you need to get at it. They need to look at it as a five year plan, get some hungry riders and build it up slowly.
“When Suzuki took a break from GPs from 1984 to 1986 and came back in '87, I raced the bike and it wasn't the best to start with and couldn't consistently win races for a couple of years. We worked hard and were able to catch up to the other manufacturers, but now I don't know if with all the electronics it is as easy to catch up to the quicker bikes out there.
“But you're going to learn where you're at and where you need to get to a lot quicker if you're racing instead of testing and at the least I would enter the bike at Motegi for the Japanese Grand Prix as well.”
Motegi, round 15 of 18, takes place on October 10-12.
Suzuki is yet to announce either of its riders for 2015, but Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales are heavily rumoured. That would leave no place for de Puniet, who is one of the riders 1993 world champion Schwantz is competing against at Suzuka this weekend.
Commenting on the lack of MotoGP riders present at the prestigious Japanese event, Schwantz said: "There's not many guys from GPs here at the moment but I love that I can come out here and race against guys like Rea, Haslam, van der Mark, Parkes, de Puniet and all the top Japanese riders, even if there's not the depth in the field like it used to be, there are some impressive guys out here.
"It would be cool to get some of the other guys from World Superbike out here like Sykes and yeah, maybe some MotoGP riders too so we could see this race get as big as it was when I raced here back in the eighties and nineties.
"Also, if I was Nicky Hayden and didn't have to get my hand operated on like he did I'd be asking about coming to do the 8 Hour so I could keep my foot in the door with Honda. This race is so important for the Japanese factories."